Pilot project in Benguet, Pangasinan, Tarlac to urge farmers to wear personal protective equipment while spraying crop protection products

June 4, 2021

Bayer Crop Science will be implementing a pilot project in selected agricultural towns aimed at making personal protective equipment (PPE) available for farmers when applying crop protection products in their fields.

   The project, which will be implemented in vegetable-producing municipalities of Buguias

and La Trinidad in Benguet, and the rice areas of Bayambang, Pangasinan and Concepcion, Tarlac, aims to offer a Safety Kit. This package will be composed of 2 filter face masks, a pair of nitrile gloves, and goggles.

   While Filipino farmers seeking good yields ensure that their crops are protected from

insect pests and diseases, most farmers do not use the complete recommended PPE at

the time when spraying is necessary.

   Based on a survey conducted by Bayer, only 6 out of 10 farmers wear a face mask when preparing and applying crop protection products.

   Among those who do sport them, they use the surgical mask type, which is not recommended as it doesn’t protect the farmer from potential inhalation of the product due to dispersal and wind changes.

   Farmer dons complete Personal Protective Equipment for his health protection while spraying pesticides

“The right face mask when spraying crop protection products are those with a filter, ideally

FFP2 type,” said David Cristobal, Regulatory Stewardship and Compliance Lead for

Bayer Crop Science.

   “FFP2 masks have three layers of synthetic non-woven materials with the inclusion of filtration layers between, and they provide sufficient protection for farmers.”

   In addition to low and incorrect mask use in the survey, only 10% of farmers use googles

when spraying crop protection products, while 60% use surgical gloves, which is also not

the right material to shield the farmers’ hands.

    “As part of our stewardship efforts, we make it a point to train farmers on the proper

application of crop protection products, which includes wearing full PPE when spraying,”

said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead for Bayer Crop Science. “A complete PPE

set is comprised of boots, long sleeved shirts & trousers, nitrile gloves, filter mask, and


    While nearly all farmers said that PPE is important to protect themselves from any harm,

some reasons why they chose not to wear them include the cost, unavailability, and lack

of comfort.

   From the pilot project, Bayer will be selling the Safety Kit through selected distributors in

the 4 municipalities with the objective of gauging farmer adoption of the PPE and

generating insights from the initiative. The farmer also has the option to purchase

individual items instead of the entire kit.

   “We’re hoping that this project can solve some of the concerns of farmers on low and

wrong PPE usage, and that this will help sustain their health as they continue to provide

food for all of us,” said Lao. 

World Heritage Site Mt. Hamiguitan receives forest protection boost as communities engage in sustainable livelihood beekeeping

June 3, 2021

UNESCO World Heritage Site Mt Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental is receiving its needed forest protection boost as its communities have engaged in beekeeping of native “kiyot,” generating sustainable income while protecting the environment.

            With a more dependable livelihood and income, residents of the buffer zone of Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) are turning to become strong forest guards who help conserve forests and biodiversity of the protected site.

            The beekeeping livelihood program is a special project called Beekeeping as Bio-diversity-Friendly Community-Based Enterprise in Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary and Expansion Areas of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to involve the community in forest conservation.  This is even as Mt. Hamiguitan is a wildlife sanctuary recognized by UNESCO to have a universal value. It is home to globally threatened flora and fauna eight of which are found only Mt. Hamiguitan itself.

            It is the sixth in the Philippines to be accorded recognition as a World Heritage Site.

            “Raising native bees will not only generate alternative source of livelihood, but it is also considered significant in improving the diversity and productivity of the surrounding vegetation of Mt. Hamiguitan through an improved pollination process offered by the bees,” said Clint Michael Cleofe, Provincial Environment & Natural Resources Office management specialist.

            Fortunately, the native bee variety in San Isidro town, the kiyot, is known to be stingless.  That apparently makes it easier to harvest the kiyot honey.

            The beekeeping livelihood program is supported by the local government of San Isidro municipality.  The University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) Tagum campus also has a development plan for the beekeeping livelihood program.

              DENR’s assistance to the beekeeping livelihood project includes a Capacity Development Plan or training of people’s organizations (POs) on beekeeping and business management.

            Beekeeping materials and equipment and start-up kits are provided to the POs.  Assistance in product development and product marketing area also extended to the POs.

              As there is a high demand for bee products—honey and propolis– the project is expected to generate satisfactory income for the community.#

   There is a separate memorandum of agreement between DENR and the local government of the Governor Generoso municipality (also host community of MHRWS) for another livelihood program—sustainable almaciga resin.

   PO  to be benefited is the Lumad Almaciga Tappers of Governor Generoso (LATAGG).  Monthly household income generated from almaciga resin production is P6,000 to P8,000.  At the same time, LATAGG members become volunteer forest patrollers in Mt. Hamiguitan.

   While generally pronounced to have “good” state of protection, Mt. Hamiguitan is being strictly protected as it faces threats of conversion of land for agriculture.  There are also mining threats outside the site. 

   Potential risks from climate change and increasing tourism are now being addressed by DENR.

   Mt. Hamiguitan is known for its highly diverse mountain ecosystem that makes it home to a number of endemic species known only in Mindanao and particularly found only in Mt. Hamiguitan.

   “The combination of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within the boundaries of the property and the large number of species inhabiting each makes the MHRWS home to a total of 1,380 species with 341 Philippine endemics,” according to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

   That includes critically endangered species — the iconic Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi).  Also considered endangered are the Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), the trees Shorea polysperma, Shorea astylosa and the  orchid Paphiopedilum adductum.

   “Its high level of endemicity is well exemplified by the proportion of its amphibian (75% endemic) and reptile (84% endemic) species.  The fragile tropical ‘bonsai’ forest that crowns the MHRWS epitomizes nature’s bid to survive in adverse conditions,” UNESCO said.

   Scientists believe there may be more undiscovered unique flora and fauna in the mountain range.

   “In the lower elevations the agro-ecosystem and remnants of dipterocarp forests house some 246 plant species including significant numbers of endemics such as the globally threatened dipterocarps of the genus Shorea. The dipterocarp forest ecosystem is characterized by the presence of large trees and is home to 418 plant and 146 animal species, which include threatened species such as the Mindanao Bleeding-heart dove (Gallicolumba crinigera) and Philippine warty pig (Sus philippensis).”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Filipino-owned Frabelle Fishing Corp interested in putting up tuna canning plant in India

June 1, 2021

Filipino-owned global firm Frabelle Fishing Corp. (FFC) has expressed interest in putting up tuna canning facilities in India as an expansion of Filipino companies’ already existing overseas canning operations in Papua New Guinea,

   Speaking before the first virtual India Philippines Marine fisheries & Aquatic Business Conference (IPM-ABC), FFC President Francisco Tiu Laurel said India is a very prospective site for putting up canning facilities with its availability of tuna raw material.

   “It is quite interesting for me to note that India has a potential of 230,000 metric tons of tuna annually of which 40% is skipjack and the rest is big eye and yellowfin.  That’s something worth looking into by way of putting up the facility or at least buy more materials to feed existing Filipino-owned factories around the western and central Pacific,” said Tiu at the IPM-ABC.

   Filipino companies are unique in a way that these have the fleet to catch the  fish and the plant to process and can the fish. The biggest volume, 86%,  is canned in pouch, and 14%, is in tuna loins.

   “In the 1960s, boats were a lot smaller now.  Now we compete with world’s best with purse seine large fishing vessels,” he said during the IPM-ABC co-organized by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food (PCAFI).

Filipino-owned Frabelle Fishing Corp. runs tuna processing-canning plants in Papua New Guinea Credit-Frabelle

   FFC is into deep-sea fishing, aquaculture, canning, food manufacturing, processing, food importation and trading, cold storage, shipyard operations, wharf development, real estate development, and power generation.

   Since Filipino-owned companies already operate canning facilities overseas, it can further just expand to India whose available tuna supply can be processed right where the fish is caught. Filipino-owned tuna companies have existing canning plants in Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

   Another expansion option, Tiu said, under this India-Philippines cooperation is for Filipino companies to expand their fleet and fish around India’s fishing ground.  That is if they are permitted.

   “We are willing to expand our tuna fleet where we are welcome to fish.That’s something quite encouraging to look at in India.  The Philippines will be willing to invest as long as they’re are allowed to fish– if that’s  possible,” said Tiu.

   Frabelle is a world-class fishing company.  It runs a fleet of over 100 vessels.The company employs 5,000 people.  Its markets for seafood are Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, and the United States.

    The Philippines exports the large chunk of 90% of its tuna production mainly to  the European Union, 60% (where it enjoys preferential duty); United States, 40%; and to the Middle East, Japan and Australia, a combined 26%. Only 8-11% is marketed locally.

   PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said expansion of the country’s fishery sector arising from the trade cooperation between India and the Philippines is expected to improve the lives of Filipino fishermen who depend on fishing for their livelihood.

   “The fisheries sector provides employment to over 1.6 million people, 85% of whom were from the municipal fisheries and 1% from commercial fisheries, while the aquaculture sector employed 14%,” said Fausto.

Frabelle has a fleet of more than 100 vessels producing fresh fish mainly from western and central Pacific. Credit-Fis-net

   “The Philippine fishing industry contributed around 2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 15% of the total Philippine agriculture output “

   Indian fishery authorities who attended the IPM-ABC said there are huge opportunities for value addition in India’s fishery sector. 

   “Tuna has great investment opportunity in India.  We recognize the Philippines as a world leader in tuna processing. You come to India and directly invest,” said Cherian Cherian Kurian, managing director of India’s M/s HIC ABF Special Foods.

   “The Indian government announced a policy to exploit these resources.  Today we do canning in India, but volume is so low.”

   Tuna is the Philippines’ biggest seafood export with  value of $300 to $400 million yearly.

   With the successful virtual business conference co-organized too by the Indian Embassy in the Philippines, Indian Ambassador Shambhu S. Kumaran said both agencies will host other conferences that will benefit both countries’ agriculture subsectors. Among the next business conference may be on the dairy and livestock sectors.     (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)